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DevelopSpringfield Wins Award for Merrick-Phelps House

SPRINGFIELD — DevelopSpringfield was presented with a 2017 Massachusetts Historical Commission Historic Preservation Award by Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin at a ceremony on Nov. 2.

“The Massachusetts Historical Commission is proud to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of this year’s awardees,” Galvin said. “The projects the commission is recognizing this year are particularly diverse and represent the many creative ways that significant historic resources are being preserved across the Commonwealth. With this project, the Merrick-Phelps House will now be an important contributor to Springfield’s economic future.”

Constructed in 1841, the Merrick-Phelps House, located at 83 Maple St., is one of Springfield’s most significant historic buildings. The house was built by Solymon Merrick, inventor of the monkey wrench and a key player in Springfield’s history of industry and innovation. The house was then sold in 1847 to Ansel Phelps, who later became the city’s mayor. Many residents still refer to this as the ‘Mayor’s House.’ After Phelps’s death in 1860, the building continued to house families of the Springfield elite well into the 20th century.

The Merrick-Phelps House, situated on the corner of Maple and Union streets, is a Greek Revival-style, two-story, single-family house featuring a low hipped roof and an elaborate, two-story portico with fluted Corinthian columns. A one-story porch on the Union Street elevation was added in 1890. The primary entrance on Maple Street is accentuated by a Greek Revival-style door surround and a pair of glass-and-wood-panel doors. The windows are all original wood windows. Notable interior features include a grand center hall with a curved staircase along the wall, a large parlor and dining room with decorative trim, and five original fireplace mantels.

Toward the end of the 20th century, the house began to show signs of neglect, and it was abandoned in 2007. When DevelopSpringfield purchased the house in 2013, it had been vacant for several years and was in an advanced state of deterioration.

DevelopSpringfield worked with a team of experts to assist in the successful rehabilitation of this historic property, including architect Marco Crescentini of Dietz & Co. Architects, general contractor Peter Hamm of Historic Preservation Associates, preservation specialist Gregory Farmer of Agricola Corp., preservation consultant William Young of Epsilon Associates, and Dennis Keefe of Westfield Bank (financing).

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